Contrary to claims by Health Secretary Francisco Duque, the Philippines comes second to Malaysia in terms of the number of COVID cases in Southeast Asia. The country is the also the second highest in terms of COVID-19 deaths in the region.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
As of April 8, the Philippines is the second highest in terms of COVID-19 deaths in Southeast Asia. The number of COVID-19 deaths in the Philippines is now 182 while Indonesia has 240.
The Philippines, which has 3,870 total COVID-19 cases as of April 8, comes second to Malaysia with 4,119 cases. However, the Philippines has higher mortality rate of 4.7 percent compared to Malaysia’s 1.5 percent.
On April 8, Health Secretary Franciso Duque, at a press briefing in Malacañang, claimed the Philippines is among the countries with lowest rate of COVID-19 infection.
Critics maintained that the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines remains underreported with the limited testing. As of April 8, the Philippines is among the countries with lowest number of tests done in the region. The country’s 5,267 tests are a far cry with Vietnam’s 110,124. It is not even ten percent of the COVID tests done in Malaysia.
In a statement, the Community Medicine Development Foundation said that even as the Department of Health (DOH) relented to the call for mass testing, the reported numbers do not add up, causing more confusion. “There is severe under-reporting, including those for persons under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs) that needs to be seriously addressed,” the group said.
Not the first to implement travel ban
Duque credited the country’s supposed “low infection rate” to Duterte’s order to temporarily deny entry to travelers from China and the lockdown of Luzon in March.
Contrary to claims by President Rodrigo Duterte that he was the first to order travel ban, five countries in Southeast Asia implemented border closures before the Philippines. While the Philippines ordered travel ban from mainland China on Feb. 2, Singapore banned travelers from Hubei as early as January 29, extended this to those who came from mainland China on Feb. 1.
While the Philippines closed its borders to all tourists on March 22, Malaysia imposed the travel ban for all tourists on March 16.